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14 Best Ways to Report Marketing Results to Senior Executives

Good marketers know they need in-depth analytics to measure the success of their marketing campaigns. Precise metrics not only help marketers adapt their strategy to yield a greater return on investment; they are also essential tools for communicating that ROI to higher-level executives.

Striking a balance between robust analytics and digestible reporting can be challenging for many marketing professionals. Below are 14 best practices to demonstrate the effectiveness and value of a marketing campaign for the executive team.

1. Lead With Concrete Results

The best metrics connect the dots between marketing efforts and customer acquisition and retention. It’s important to lead with concrete results in your reporting, then follow up with more detail on how these results were achieved and the plan to continue successfully moving the company forward. Telling the story of the unified marketing and sales team efforts with your data is a must.

2. Focus On The Results, Not How You Got Them

For marketers, the focus should be on how deep ROI measurements are layering up the company goals. For high-level executives, the narrative should not be on tactical measurements but rather on the marketing efforts that resulted in positive outcomes and results directly impacting the company goals. The old sausage metaphor stands true: “You want the outcome, but you don’t need to know how it’s made.”

3. Prioritise Corporate Goals

What matters for higher-level executives is the ability to hit overall corporate goals, which are generally revenue targets, whether for retention or growth. Marketing metrics to focus on are the ones that are most important to hit those numbers. Marketing should understand all the other layers of metrics in order to know which tactics to keep executing upon for continued success.

4. Deliver Only The Information They Need

Think as a business leader and deliver only the information they need. How are you effectively creating demand for your sellers? What revenue can you tie to your demand generation programs? How do your communication programs increase the share of voice? Ultimately, you need to compare your overall marketing budget spent to the marketing opportunity revenue your team generated.

5. Align Marketing Outcomes To Business Goals

The key is to align marketing outcomes (not output) to business goals. Marketing—if done well—contributes to much more than sales; it covers brand, reputation and employer brand, too. By all means, showcase the work done by marketing while recognising the partner functions such as product, IT and HR teams, among others.

6. Follow A Pyramid Model

It’s no secret that, in terms of reporting, you need a pyramid model—the more senior the executive, the less granular detail is required and the more concise the point needs to be. I apply the “So what?” method with my team; I encourage them to anticipate questions and always have a point before they present any data to stakeholders. If you can’t pass the “So what?” test, you shouldn’t share the data.

7. Choose The Top Metrics To Review

Select the top three to five marketing metrics that the top team will be reviewing on a consistent basis. These metrics should align with your strategic vision and goals and should be agreed upon by the CEO. At the review meeting, consider selecting one or two areas for a deeper dive. And always, always have a monster appendix at the ready when an executive asks a deeper question.

8. Distinguish Performance Data From Strategic Data

It is helpful to distinguish performance data from strategic data. Performance data measures the contribution of marketing to the financial health of the company—namely leads, opportunities and revenue attributed to marketing—and is shared with the executives. Strategic data lives within the marketing team and is used to drive marketing decisions, including channel performance, traffic and open rates.

9. Align Your Marketing Strategy With The Organisational Strategy

The biggest challenge for a CMO is having to educate fellow C-suite members of the business and the board on marketing channels and metrics. The key, in my opinion, is to align your marketing and communications strategy with the organisational strategic plan, outline the core metrics, agree on these and be consistent in your delivery of the ROI in order to educate stakeholders. As a marketer, you hold the expertise.

10. Track Long-Term Progress

Track long-term progress toward your firm’s overarching objectives. Look at your company’s roadmap. Do your monthly KPIs line up with where you want to be as a company in 12 or 24 months from now? What about your quarterly or semi-annual KPIs? Zoom out and look at the long-term picture and how much closer you’re getting to your goals. This is what lots of higher-ups want to see.

11. Document How Marketing ROIs Connect To Strategic Plan Outcomes

Align your marketing campaign with the company’s strategic plan. Document how the marketing ROIs connect to strategic plan outcomes. Conduct the deep dive measurements your marketing team needs, always. Educate the C-suite on marketing measurements—but remember, they hired you for your expertise. Give them the information they need in the format that works best for their reports.

12. Focus On The Outcomes Of Your Outputs

It’s positive to report on growth in organic and paid performance, but ultimately, higher-level executives such as board members are interested in the outcomes of the outputs. This typically includes the number of leads generated and revenue growth. For example, an increase in online rankings may have generated more Web traffic, but it’s key to report on conversions and business growth.

13. Focus On Overall Company Growth

Higher-level executives don’t need to know the tactical details of marketing, but they do need to understand how the marketing strategy supports overall company growth. Site traffic, email opens and social engagement are required to manage a marketing team—but in my experience, executives need to hear the overarching strategy and understand how the spend contributed to growth.

14. Avoid Vanity Metrics

The top thing to keep in mind is to avoid vanity metrics. Presenting vanity metrics dilutes marketing’s impact and true capabilities. It will also erode your credibility. Executives are good at seeing through extraneous data. Ensure you are concise, highlight the value or needs of the team and articulate how they add to company goals.

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